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Muzzling Solway? …As Mittal, Others Fight To Silence License

by newsmanager

MONROVIA: In a turn of events, Solway, a promising Liberian mining company, is said to be standing its ground against alleged attempts by some former Liberian officials and a major steel giant, ArcelorMittal, to silence its license.

According to information gathered by this paper, the unfolding saga sheds light on the complex dynamics within Liberia’s extractive industries.

It is gathered by this paper that it all began in 2021 when ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) allegedly submitted an application for a 25-year extension of their Mineral Development Agreement (MDA).

Shockingly, according to the claim, AML had included the coordinates of the Solway Exploration Licensed Area into its production area, a move that faced strong opposition by Solway.

The Liberian Legislature, it is also gathered, did not ratify the MDA amendment, but sent it back to the Executive Branch, thus exposing the questionable tactics allegedly employed by AML.

Fast forward to mid-2023, it is claimed that tensions escalated as AML decided to implement its purported plan to muscle Solway out of its license.

It is further gathered that AML, in collaboration with certain government officials (not named), crafted a so-called Release and Settlement Agreement.

To the dismay of Solway, reports say, said agreement was not negotiated with Solway and that the Pact completely disregarded the value of the 1.2 billion-ton ore reserves explored by Solway Mining Incorporated (SMI), then.

Further complicating matters, according to reports, AML used its influence to pressure Solway into signing an unfair “settlement.”

Adding insult to injury, it is gathered that AML delayed the 10-day payment for several months.

In a calculated move, it is further claimed that AML decided to pay the so-called Settlement Amount of US$17.5 million to the Government during the Liberian elections campaign season.

However, Solway had serious reservations about the payment not reaching them, given the notorious reputations of some of the former officials who were involved.

The motive behind the delay of the US$17.5 million payment remains unknown, raising concerns about potential corruption.

SMI, the mining arm of Solway, had repeatedly raised flags about reported acts of corruption on the part of some certain key government figures as regard their commitment to transparency and accountability within Liberia’s extractive industries.

As this gripping saga unfolds, the spotlight is on Solway as it navigates these trouble waters.

Solway’s resilience in the face of adversity would serve as a beacon of hope for other small mining companies in Liberia.

The Liberian public eagerly awaits the resolution of this contentious dispute, hoping that justice will prevail and the integrity of the mining sector will be upheld.

SMI has taken legal action against the Government of Liberia and AML, demanding the cancellation of the Release and Settlement Deed due to non-payment of the Settlement Amount.

The case, filed in Liberia’s Commercial Court, aims to protect SMI’s interests as the aggrieved party.

Simultaneously, SMI has proposed a win-win solution to the ongoing dispute.

They are ready to move forward with their Mineral Development Agreement, offering the Government a generous 50% profit sharing arrangement.

This offer could potentially pave the way for iron ore exploitation and boost Liberia’s economy.

To further strengthen their proposal, SMI has extended an offtaker model to AML, it is further gathered.

This model grants AML the right of first refusal to purchase the extracted ore at a special concessionary rate, subject to negotiations.

This strategic move aims to foster collaboration and ensure the smooth operation of both companies in the proximate areas.

In a reported merger, Solway, the parent company of SMI, has joined forces with Engineers & Planners (E&P), West Africa’s largest contract mining company.

E&P will provide the necessary machinery and working capital for the extraction, beneficiation, and evacuation of the iron ore. This partnership promises to bring expertise and efficiency to the table. AML has so far not commented on agreement.

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